Sidmouth’s sewers cleared of ‘fatbergs’
06:00 25 July 2014
A high pressure jet is being used to blast a build-up of fat, baby wipes and storm debris in a project to tackle a smell pervading Sidmouth.
South West Water (SWW) was urged to clear the drains by MP Hugo Swire after he witnessed sewage seep across the seafront as 300 scouts marched in a St George’s Day parade.
The ‘disgusting’ incident was blamed on ‘fatbergs’ – massive build-ups of filthy deposits – clogging the drains, which the firm is now tackling. The storm storage tank beneath The Esplanade has been flushed and work is now under way clearing other sewers nearby.
“We’re here to get rid of the problem,” said Steve Young, an operative for Clear-Flow, which was contracted to carry out the works.
The crews are firing a jet of water up the pipes, and then when the pressure is released it flows back to the tank, carrying the clogs, which get taken to the treatment site.
“It’s a straightforward operation but there’s been a lot of interest from the locals,” added Steve. “This is a problem nationwide – educating the public would be the better way.”
He said the pumps cannot handle solids, like fat forms when it cools, or non-biodegradable waste such as baby wipes and sanitary products.
This year’s storms also exacerbated the issue, washing silt, stones and other debris into the pipes.
SWW’s Richard Gilpin said: “Removing this build-up will increase the capacity of the sewers and prevent blockages and bad smells.
“We have timed the work so that it will be finished before Sidmouth FolkWeek starts on August 1.
“We would like to thank the people of Sidmouth for their patience while we carry out this essential work.”
He said work in Chapel Road, Dove Lane and York Street is under way nightly from 7pm until 11.30pm and it due to finish on Monday (July 28).